Monday, December 21, 2009

In death there is freedom

There are times when people can (and do) surprise me and this morning was one of those times. I reached out to someone and they reached back.

I had some news this weekend that has hit me sideways. I didn't really know what or how to think, although my first emotion was disbelief, followed closely by relief. Through it all, I keep remembering something I've heard many times. When a free man dies he loses the pleasure of life, but when a slave dies he loses his pain. Does that hold true when a slave's abuser and tormentor dies and he is finally free?

There was a story about Adolph Hitler that comes to mind. When Hitler's father died, a man who had ignored and abused him emotionally all his life, Hitler grieved and cried openly as he had not done for his beloved mother. It's said that he grieved so hard and so long because the man he hated most in the world was gone and he had no one left to hate -- except for the Jews and the rest of the non-Aryan world.

I don't hate my abuser and tormentor; however, I do feel sorry for her. Despite the many privileges and wealth she has known, she is a small, petty and mean person and has led a narrow and constricted life, a life she narrowed and constricted. Instead of love, she gave spite. Instead of hope, she made dreams dirty and insignificant in order to make herself feel better and more important and worth more than the person she abused and tormented. She is jealous and mean-spirited and hateful because she doesn't have everything she wants, in this case a soul. Living with the outward appearance of goodness wears thin when people get too close and look too far beneath the surface, which is why she has never let people get too close -- even though it seems she does. She has no friends and no trusted acquaintances because she cannot trust anyone who would be able to see behind the facade to the emptiness and darkness within.

She is failing. Time and the abuse of her own body are catching up and she may soon be gone. What I feel is complex because the situation is complex. One thing I learned a long time ago is that the opposite of love is apathy and not hate. You cannot hate someone or something you have not loved. And so I will miss her in a way, but mostly I will feel relieved, unshackled and free. My servitude to a mean and hurtful taskmaster will be over. All the pressure will be gone and I can breathe without fear of being caught enjoying myself. There will be no one to run me down or inject a hint of poison into my joy in order to debase the golden coin of success and happiness. I cannot, like Hitler, grieve because I no longer have anyone to hate because I hate no one. So, the question remains, how will it feel to be free of torment and abuse? I keep returning to the lines above. In death, a slave loses his pain.

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